AUSTIN (KXAN) – Several groups are expected to meet at the Texas Capitol Wednesday to rally in support of legislation that will target human trafficking in Texas.
Texas accounts for almost 10 percent of all trafficking calls received by the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, second only to California.
Lawmakers are considering eight bills this session. But, the groups rallying strongly support two of those eight bills.
The first is House Bill 269. It allows trafficking victims who have been convicted of prostitution to have their records sealed, if the court finds out that they were forced into prostitution.
And, the second is House Bill 491. If passed, it would require people convicted of trafficking teens and children to register as sex offenders.
Survivors believe it is difficult for teens and children to break away from traffickers.
“I actually was originally kidnapped by certain gang members,” said Survivor Allison Franklin. “And, in reality, my real trafficker pretended to rescue me from them and so he actually went through a romancing period. And, I became attached to him.”
According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children about one in five children who run away are likely sex trafficking victims. Texas has more than 10,000 runaways every year.
Franklin said a therapist at a domestic violence shelter identified that she was a victim of sex trafficking. And, many teens are trapped into trafficking through social media sites.
“There are predators on those online outlets and they prey on the vulnerable,” Franklin said. “So, [teens] might meet this person thinking it’s just a date and could get kidnapped or coerced and think, ‘this is my boyfriend.’ And, he’s really a trafficker.”
Eight groups, led by Children at Risk, will rally in support of the bills.
The rally starts at 11 a.m. on the South steps of the Capitol.